Loris Baz clinched his first World Superbike victory as changeable weather led to a chaotic finish to race one at Silverstone. The French rookie coped better than anybody else but the two GoldBet BMWs of Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini both came within a whisker of beating him to the chequered flag.
The race was initially supposed to be held in the dry but a shower on the first lap caused a restart, and the declaration of a wet race. Ironically though, by the time things got going again, the rain had stopped.
Last year's double winner Carlos Checa stormed into a comfortable lead after ending Leon Haslam's early spell at the front with his advantage growing to three seconds over the British BMW rider. The home supporters had plenty to cheer for as Tom Sykes and Leon Camier chased him hard in the race for a podium spot. With six laps to go, Baz was lurking in sixth while the GoldBet boys were even further back after starting well outside the top ten.
The rain soon made a return throwing the race wide open with rules preventing a 'wet race' being stopped due to a sudden shower. The riders would be forced to tiptoe through the remaining laps on slicks and that didn't seem to go down well with Checa, whose lead quickly evaporated.
Haslam breezed past him into Stowe on lap thirteen and pulled out a similar margin that Checa had. Meanwhile, the fearless Italians Fabrizio and Badovini were slicing through the chasing group and were starting to follow Baz in his ascent up the order. Jonathan Rea was another rider moving into contention, a stunning achievement after running wide at Aintree on lap one and falling to the back of the field.
With two laps to go, Haslam fell prey to Baz at Village but the Frenchman was outdragged down the Hangar Straight by Fabrizio. Rea was sensing a memorable victory himself though and dived through into the lead as they rounded Copse for the final time. The Hangar Straight would see the decisive action though as Baz used the grunt of the Kawasaki ZX-10R to grab P1 at Stowe. Despite having both BMWs all over him at Vale, he hung on for a first SBK win while Fabrizio and Badovini locked out the two remaining podium spots. Rea was edged into fourth and the Ulsterman's disappointment was compounded when Badovini crashed after taking the chequered flag, sweeping him off his Honda in the process.
Previous leaders Carlos Checa and Leon Haslam had to make do with fifth and sixth with Marco Melandri seventh. While that may not have been an ideal result for the championship contender, the nine points looked pretty valuable when Max Biaggi crashed at Aintree on the final lap, sending the Aprilia man to his first DNF of the season. Leon Camier was another man to end his race early when well placed, tumbling out of a podium position four laps from home.
The opening race couldn't have gone much worse for polesitter Jakub Smrz. The Czech rider was knocked off by teammate Maxime Berger in the aborted run and inexplicably chose wet tyres for the restart, leaving him a lap adrift and stone last.